The second to last week of the regular season either features cupcake matchups (Alabama vs. The Citadel, Florida vs. Idaho for example). It could create intriguing games before Thanksgiving, much like Notre Dame vs. Syracuse.
For the Central Michigan Chippewas, the second to last week of the season is a bye and a chance for them to “recharge the batteries,” according to head coach John Bonamego.
The Chippewas are at 1-10 and 0-7 in the Mid-American Conference following their latest loss to the Bowling Green Falcons last Saturday in Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Last Saturday’s loss marked the first time in Central Michigan football history that a team reached double-digit losses.
Following the loss to the Falcons, Bonamego stated that his job “is on the line every week of every season.”
While there have not been rumors from the administration, the fans have grown impatient with Bonamego and the coaching staff as the team has struggled to put together a full, 60-minute game this season.
The Chippewas have one more opportunity to take the field and find that long-awaited second win of the season.
What Central Michigan needs to do in their late-season bye week
Improve decision making and awareness
Last Saturday, the Chippewas allowed Bowling Green to score 24 unanswered points in the second half. The first points stemmed from a Falcons’ fake punt to extend their opening drive of the second half.
“We missed a tackle on that play,” Bonamego said. That was a missed assignment and can be attributed to a lapse of awareness.
The second special team’s play that swung momentum in the Falcons’ favor was a recovered pooch kick. That play allowed the Falcons to steal another drive and take the lead for good early on in the third quarter.
“Those special teams plays that they made cut deeply,” Bonamego said.
If the Chippewas can avoid those plays, the whole tone of the game would change. The offense went to the locker room ahead by 13 points, when they first took that field for the second half, they trailed by one.
Eliminate costly mistakes
The Chippewas average 65.36 penalty yards per game and their opponents are averaging 57.18 yards per game. Central Michigan needs to cut down on the penalties as they usually are called in big moments.
Last Saturday’s game against the Falcons was another example that mistakes turn to losses. The Chippewas had a 13-point lead and had a couple of mistakes on defense and special teams to lose that lead.
The offense compounded the issue as they seemed to halt production. They gained just 29 yards in the second half.
Central Michigan takes on the Toledo Rockets on Friday, Nov. 23 at noon in the Glass Bowl to cap off a disappointing season in the eyes of many fans. If the Chippewas can put together an offensive performance as they did in the first half against Bowling Green, they can score that second win.